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Monday, March 23, 2015

For this intent have we written these things... (Jacob 4:4)

I was terrible at consistency when it came to writing in my journal before my mission to the Canada Toronto West Mission, but when all you have to do with an hour and a half is make a few phone calls and plan for the next day, that leaves plenty of time to do journal writing.

Something else I noticed, as I developed a better habit of scripture reading - no, in depth scripture study, was the true value of the scriptures, that the only reason we have the standard works is because people listened to prophets of God and wrote it down.  But, if you really think about it, according to those same scriptures, in Doctrine and Covenants 68:4, "And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation."  This verse, in context, talks about all who are ordained priesthood holders in the Lord's kingdom, but I believe it applies to anyone who speaks "when moved upon by the Holy Ghost".

So, technically, under that premise, anything that is written or spoken under the influence of the Holy Ghost can be regarded as "mind of the Lord... the word of the Lord... the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation".  Even President Kimball said "Get a notebook ... a journal that will last through all time ... Begin today and write in it your goings and comings, your deepest thoughts, your achievements and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, your impressions and your testimonies. Remember, the Savior chastised those who failed to record important events."  Even the Savior Himself said "For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written."

Why would the Savior make such import of writing what He speaks to us, through prophets or through the Holy Ghost?  What is His reasoning?  As stated in the title, Jacob had a pretty good reason, "for this intent have we written these things, that they may know that we knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us."  Nephi also mentions that he wrote of Christ "that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins."  Are we not supposed to follow the counsel and example of the prophets, since they are the mouthpiece of the Lord?

There are many benefits to writing in a journal aside from the benefits of our testimonies.  Helaman said to his sons Nephi and Lehi, "Behold, I have given unto you the names of our first parents who came out of the land of Jerusalem; and this I have done that when you remember your names ye may remember them; and when ye remember them ye may remember their works; and when ye remember their works ye may know how that it is said, and also written, that they were good."  I have personally been promised by God that my heritage would guide me in my determination to do everything in my power to remain faithful and obedient.  My great great great great grandfather, Zera Pulsipher, taught and baptized Wilford Woodruff, the 4th prophet of the Lord's church.  His (Zera's) father and grandfather fought side by side in the Battle of Bunker Hill in the revolutionary war.  Zera was in the room and heard, along with the Quorum of the 12 apostles, Brigham Young speak with the voice of Joseph Smith. How do I know this?  Because he wrote it in his autobiography.  I never would have had such an incredible example of humble obedience to the Savior that I could relate to and aspire to if he hadn't.  Our posterity will treasure the memory of us and our testimonies of Christ forever in the words we write.

Journal writing is also therapeutic. It helps us see how we have grown and progressed over the years, helps us learn from our mistakes as we write them down and record how we overcame them.  It enhances our memories, brings us laughter when we see some silly or stupid things we did as children, helps us to better understand and be aware of how we are feeling or how to resolve inner battles or find answers to questions that may have otherwise stumped us.

Above all, I think, even if for no other reason than the fact that the Savior has commanded it, journal writing, especially about the things the Lord teaches us in life, is a critical element of a truly happy life.  I write in my journal and, as of the fast few years, in this blog, to help myself and others come closer to and become more like Christ and brighten the world around myself and others as much as I possibly can.  I owe it to myself and, more importantly, to Him, to strengthen my relationship with Him and spread the joy of His redemptive, saving, precious atoning sacrifice and eternal love to the world, through any means I can, including writing it down and studying and living what has been written as inspired by God!